Top marketing trends not to ignore (again) in 2016
As you solidify your budget and plan for 2016, you will probably face some tough choices related to prioritizing your budget allocations. As you work through this difficult process, I urge you to break from the common approach of basing the 2016 budget on the 2015 plan. That approach usually leads to a program that looks very much like previous years and doesn’t allow for much evolution. That is a problem that gets bigger every year; buyer behavior has changed dramatically in every marketplace and most companies are well behind the curve. Before you close the book on next year’s plan, consider these top trends and ask yourself if you are satisfied with the progress you have made. If not – I implore you to give it a second look and make 2016 a year of positive change.
Content Planning and Creation: In today’s world, a successful integrated marketing program requires good content. If you have not implemented a process for planning and developing good content, put this at the top of your list.
Mobile: More than 50% of search is mobile and more than 46% of email is opened on a mobile device. Your customers are mobile – do your marketing budget and website reflect this?
Search Marketing: Search engine marketing (SEM) is the practice of using SEO and paid search strategies to ensure that you show up when your prospects are searching for your products, services or competitors. This should be a fundamental strength that yields high-quality traffic to your website and ongoing insights about the most valuable terms for organic search performance. How well do you show up when buyers are researching?
Retargeting: If you are not tracking people who have visited your site so you can serve them more specific messaging when they return – or elsewhere on the Web – why not?
Persona Development: Personas help you address your customers with more personal relevance. This is more important and useful than ever before. Instead of looking at traditional demographic information, you should look at attitudes that cross demographics – and allow you to target messaging based on where prospects are in the sales process. When is the last time you took a serious look at the way your customers have changed and how their needs differ from the beginning to the end of their buyer journey?
Lead Generation and Marketing Automation: Whether or not you are directly feeding a sales pipeline, building a database of customers with whom you maintain targeted and strategic communications is critical. Your owned media programs (including email and social media) should be among the top drivers of quality traffic to your website and sales pipeline. Your database should be your strongest marketing asset – and it should be continually growing and improving; is it?
Dashboards for Analytics and KPIs: Data without analysis and key performance indicators isn’t very helpful. This is an area of weakness for many businesses because it is challenging to do well – which is exactly why it can be such a powerful strategic advantage. Are you happy with your performance measurement reports?
When you look at the list above it is clear why the familiar model of budgeting from last year’s plan doesn’t allow for change. These things all require dedicated time and budget and last year’s budget was probably already tight without them. Our agency’s mission is to work with clients that are committed to marketing leadership, and it is our job to help them meet this challenge and make the changes that modern marketing demands; to that end, we have developed a planning tool to put these things into some context. You can download it here. But whatever you do, commit to these areas of focus or you are guaranteed to face this same situation next year.